The Hows and Whys of Creating an Employee Advocacy Program - Part I: Essential Systems
Monday, August 22, 2022
by: Mara Dickson

Section: Newsletter Articles

During the AHTD Marketing Minutes at our Spring Meeting “ConnectingCoasttoCoast” in Bonita Springs, we talked about the Hows and Whys of creating an Employee Advocacy program. We discovered:

1. What kinds of systems are essential for an effective Employee Advocacy program;
2. What tools are available to more easily run an Employee Advocacy program; and
3. What supports are necessary to the successful execution of an effective Employee Advocacy program.

This article will focus on the information contained in the first talk: What kinds of systems are essential for an effective Employee Advocacy program. Check next month’s Marketing Minute to read my follow-up article about the tools and supports required.

Marketing has always been about creating demand for something by cleverly attracting and keeping people’s attention. We need to EARN that attention. Is that only the domain of your Marketing Department? Absolutely not.

The notion that only the “official” marketing department can initiate communication or outreach to customers and potential employees is over — everyone on your company’s team can be a contributor and influencer online, if done properly. Let me be clear: This means employees need to participate in social media during work hours – it is a part of their job. As a part of their job, offer employees the time needed to engage in conversations online in the same way that we allow them to create strong collegial relationships talking about non-business life during telephone and sales calls. Online or in-person, if a trusted friend vouches for where they work, the company is more likely to be trusted by the public in general, so with 98% of employees already participating on at least one social media platform, what is YOUR company doing to leverage the value of your people’s networks?

Create employee advocates and give your people every advantage to succeed in sharing your company’s story to reap the results of driving bottom-line impact for your business. Product managers, technical leads, creative leads – everyone on your team can, and should, promote your company and their knowledge in ways that make a significant impact on the perception of your company’s value proposition.

Want to create these employee advocates? Your own in-house Goodwill ambassadors? Want to reap the benefits of mobilizing your employees’ ability to amplify your brand message? Make it easy! Provide the systems, tools, and support for them to expertly advocate on the company’s behalf!

What systems are essential for an effective Employee Advocacy program? Systems for Planning, Segmentation, Training, and Guidelines.

1. Have a plan – Create a vision for what it is you hope to accomplish, the steps you will take to accomplish it, and how you plan to measure it.

Not only is it necessary to plan how and when to create engaging, relevant, and complementary social messaging to serve customers, it’s also crucial to set targets and metrics so you can track the progress of your program. Doing that requires research on your part. You need to understand what content is resonating and with whom. What channels are effective? At what times are people looking at content? Assess:

a. Where are you now?
b. Where do you hope to be?
c. What are the steps to get there?
d. How will you know when you get there?
e. How will you know you’re on the right path along the way?

These are the kind of benchmarks that will help you chart a path to program success. Data should serve as your roadmap. Use it to establish realistic and achievable goals – goals such as the number of members enrolled, percentage increase of active users on the team, the amount of content they share, and so on. By tracking that data, you can be flexible in fine-tuning your program to make sure you’re making progress toward your greater goals.

Think through this stage thoroughly. The more specific you can be and the more detailed your analysis, the quicker will be your response to whether or not you are on track!

2. Segment your team – Create employee interest/knowledge groups by segmenting your employees based on department, role, location, or even online activity

a. By creating these special-interest segments, you can develop content that will resonate more effectively with each segment while not overloading every employee with constant messages that may or may not be relevant to them.
b. At the same time as they spread the word about your brand, sharing content relevant to each segment’s focus also gives your employees the chance to demonstrate their subject-matter expertise with messaging targeted to their interests and talents, and thus to their networks.
c. 1-9-90 rule: The influencer model was first coined in 2006 by Charles Arthur, who said that for every group of 100 people online, one will create content (be the story-tellers, leading conversations), 9 will engage with it (actively share and/or comment on it with their networks), and 90 will just view or read it (passively follow the conversation, sharing only occasionally).

Focusing on delivering relevant information to your employee advocates is the best way to drive advocacy.

3. Train your advocates – Don’t assume everyone knows what to do – don’t expect your employees to be marketing experts. Training should include:

a. Discussion of BEST PRACTICES and explanation of your SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES.
b. A focus on making employees feel more confident and comfortable about being active on social media on the company’s behalf.
c. Emphasizing the opportunity that is being offered to hone personal brand, expand their network, enhance their credibility, and establish themselves as thought leaders in the industry, while promoting the company’s product offering.
d. Advanced training could offer the opportunity to learn skills such as taking great photos with mobile devices, easy video creation, how to use hashtags, and a step-by-step for creating and crafting their LinkedIn profiles. As your team feels more comfortable with social media, they become more likely to share your company content!

4. Share Social Media Guidelines - Create and share your organization’s guidelines to encourage workers to post, and to empower them to be effective company ambassadors.

As part of today’s regular workday, companies should expect their employees to be active users of social media — both for themselves, and as ambassadors to amplify company messaging. And, likewise, employees should now see this as a standard job requirement.

Explaining the benefits, providing training, and sharing with your team the purpose, the tone, the “rules”, and trouble-spots inherent in social media will create a group of social media savvy advocates ready to contribute to your company’s marketing program.

What are the tools and supports necessary to the execution of an effective Employee Advocacy program? We will talk about this more in the next AHTD Marketing Minute.

Click here to access my suggestions for creating Social Media Guidelines. In the meantime, please remember to connect with Leigha, AHTD, and me and follow our community hashtags to watch for our posts on the AHTD LinkedIn page and keep up with the best in industrial automation!

#AHTDrocks because we are #doinghightechbetter, together!